Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character. We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likable.
These next two weeks are kind of like the calm before the storm. Radiation and Chemo Therapy start two weeks from tomorrow and so my main goals right now are 1) to let my body continue healing from surgery, and 2) to fatten up. Thanks to so many of you that are helping me on the latter. It has been cheesecake, cookies, shakes, M&M’s, and ice cream mixed with “eating spacers” like pasta, bread, oatmeal, soups, pizza, and pork sliders. I’ve got goals people.
On my two week post surgery date (January 19th), we took treats and thank you cards back to the ICU where nurses and doctors took care of me around the clock for my first 3 days in the hospital. As a token of our appreciation for keeping me alive, we stocked their break room with homemade butterfinger ice cream….so basically, we are even now.
Tammy was the only person there when I went into the ICU break room. Tammy took care of me from 7 pm Saturday night to 7 am Sunday morning 48 hours after surgery. It was my last night in the ICU and right before she came on shift my pain broke out and was almost unbearable. I was miserable for several hours until she received approval to set me up with PCA hydromorphone (an extremely powerful narcotic delivered through my IV with a button that would let me get another small dose every 10 minutes). Pain problem solved.
As I put the ice cream on the break room table I said, “Hi Tammy. Do you remember me?”
“….oh hi there….” She had no idea who I was.
“It’s me, Jarem. You took care of me about 10 days ago in room —-“
“Oh my gosh, Jarem! Are you serious? Look at you! I didn’t even recognize you. Oh my gosh….no staples! your face! you are walking around! Look at you!”
As we talked for a few minutes Tammy told me that she really felt sympathy for me during that long Saturday night we passed. She got emotional when she told me, “I just really wanted you to do well. I was pulling for you. It means a lot to see you like this. I’m so happy for you.”
We talked for about five minutes and I was able to thank her for caring for me and how a patient can feel it when a nurse was really pulling for them. I needed to be able to say those things more than she needed to hear them. She is an amazing nurse and she knows that and she doesn’t even blink when she sees a sedated case like mine roll through the ICU doors. It felt good to say “thank you” and genuinely express gratitude. It always does.
I don’t know the best way to express my gratitude for what my family has received from so many people during this experiencde, but I don’t believe there is a really a wrong way to do it either. My preferred approach would be in-person and one-on-one conversation like I had with Tammy. To me, there is something so cathartic about those types of interactions, and I look forward to having many more of them.
But this approach isn’t possible with the hundreds of people for whom we feel gratitude — whether for your prayers and faith, notes of encouragement, help with our kids, or just helping us do life with all this stuff going on. Our goal will be to become more grateful human beings, like Joseph Wirthlin described. To brighten all around us. To make others feel better about themselves. To live in thanksgiving daily.
And we will also increase the output of our homemade ice cream machine.